This woman belongs to the Himba tribe of the Kunene, an arid, rocky wasteland in northwestern Namibia. Her temporary hut is simple, hastily constructed from poles of wood and plastered earth, as red on the inside as the woman herself. Aside from her plentiful jewellery, crafted from leather and metal, she wears only a goatskin skirt, smeared ochre over time.
Juan hand-rolled the fat cigar in front of us in the little wooden hut. The leaves had been fermented for four months with honey, vanilla and just a little rum, and smelled delicious enough to eat. Juan took a small bundle of leaves, rolled them and held them in place with paper. Dark brown leaves from the inside of the plant were then rolled diagonally around it, and the classic form of the Cuban cigar appeared before my eyes.
The Amazon at night is an ebony underworld, a place where strange creatures awake while the rest of the world slumbers. The faint jungle hum that persists throughout the day reaches a squealing crescendo at dusk.
Fidel, strutting around in a broad cowboy hat, greets me as if I am an old friend. We have, in fact, just met – but he is to be my new “dad” for the week, as I will be staying in his immaculate little bungalow in western Cuba. Here, donkeys and oxen are as ubiquitous as the 1950s cars, and the swaying tips of banana plants peek above the colourfully painted houses.
Laguna Cuicocha – a bottomless lake in the high Ecuadorean Andes, is a sacred place where even the most cynical westerner can feel the spirit of Pachamama – the Inca Mother Earth.